Dr Louise Styles PhD is currently affiliated with the University of Exeter and is researching a cognitive enrichment device for dogs soon to be released. The 37 year old lives with her husband, sons Reuben 6 and Harvey 2, and 1 year old Border Terrier Otto. She took time out of her research to explain exactly why our furry friends love a day out at the beach.
Time spent at the beach is a unique experience for body and mind, which leaves humans and dogs feeling tired and relaxed. So why does being next to the sea have such a profound effect on us?
The space and scale of the beach and the ocean does wonders for our mental health, allowing us to enter a more meditative state. As we look over the calm chaos of the waves, listening to the hypnotic sound of the tide, our inner turmoil settles and we gain perspective. Problems seem more manageable when viewed in comparison to the magnitude of the seascape.
Our senses are each stimulated by the immersive experience. Our vision is exercised by the far-reaching views over to the horizon, and also by the tiny creatures in rock pools that encourage focus and concentration as we attempt to tell our children what the minibeasts are in their net, or hunt for painted stones hidden by geocaching enthusiasts. On an autumnal stroll, we struggle to hear what is being said over the crash of the waves and the whooshing wind, or on a sunny day when all is still, the screeches of the seagulls remind us to take care of our chips. The smell of lobster pots and diesel from the boats create an atmosphere of gentle bustle. The gritty sand runs through our fingers and gets stuck in socks, remaining obstinately in the boot of the car for months. Ice cream tastes better in the fresh air, as do crab sandwiches, tea from Styrofoam cups and even cockles (shudder).
British beaches are an institution, a reminder of the way previous generations spent their precious holiday time. People tend towards innocent fun on beaches, building sandcastles, burying each other’s feet in the sand and paddling in the waves. The Wi-Fi is non-existent and there are usually only knick-knack shops, meaning that there are less smartphone and shopping distractions taking away from family time. Even the moodiest teenager can find pleasure in sinking their toes into the sand while they darkly contemplate the swirling currents.
And what of your loyal furry companion? Dog-senses are much more acute than ours, meaning that all the experiences we get from the beach are magnified hugely for them. That seagull? Fascinating! Those waves? Lem’me at ‘em! The scrunchy sand! The gorgeous dead crab washed up! The log full of bouncing little creatures! All this coupled with the potential for running around off-lead, away from cars and other potential hazards, makes the beach a definite winner for every dog.
Taking your dog with you on a UK beach holiday will improve the mental and physical health of the whole family. That tired, satisfied feeling you get in the car on the way home? An indicator that the day was well-spent in good company.
To find your nearest dog friendly beach, have a look on Snaptrip’s interactive map of the UK.